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Local banks get $7.5 loan

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World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim says a $7.5 million dollars loan has been signed to support small and medium-size enterprises, local entrepreneurs and farmers in Liberia.

In a Press Stake-Out with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in Monrovia at the climax of his one day visit here on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, Dr. Kim also said the World Bank’s second area of support here is agriculture, which he said is “a key pillar of the Liberian economy.”

On Tuesday, the World Bank chief said the IFC’s executive Vice President Jin-Yong Cai was to sign a $7.5 million loan to Ecobank on the same day, promising that the World Bank would continue to work through the IFC to provide liquidity to local banks, farmers and other small businesses in Liberia.

After meeting with President Johnson-Sirleaf at her Ministry of Foreign Affairs office, Dr. Kim said the World Bank was concerned that agricultural production here has dropped as a result of the Ebola epidemic, and the bank would help Liberian farmers recover from the crisis.

Warning that “We must make sure that the Ebola epidemic is not followed by a food security crisis” here, Dr. Kim stressed that “we don’t need to wait till we get to zero to start working on the economic recovery.” Already, he said $200 million dollars has been provided to Liberia for the Ebola crisis, and the bank will continue to support President Sirleaf’s “ambitious plan to get to zero cases as soon as possible.”

He said the bank will help improve selected infrastructure that are critical for economic competitiveness, such as urban infrastructure, access to electricity and the construction of roads and bridges that connect farmers to markets. “We need to help Liberians create jobs to help people recover from income losses as a result of the economic slowdown caused by the epidemic,” Dr. Kim said.

Earlier, President Sirleaf said World Bank has been a longstanding partner to Liberia, going back to the 1960s, and supported much of our development.” In most recent years, she said Liberia has had “the kind of support” from Dr. Kim and his team that has made a lot of progress in the country’s Vision 2030 and the Agenda for Transformation.

The Liberian leader said the World Bank’s support cut across many sectors, citing energy, roads, agriculture, health and education, and that all of those areas, according to President Sirleaf, have made progress.

“Recently, we have been faced with Ebola; you have really been exceptional in your support. Not only have you brought to us your personal knowledge of the health sector… but through the bank you have provided support to enable us to fight the disease. And I dare say the progress we’ve made comes from that very… support,” President Sirleaf said.

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